Belfast Telegraph

Man guilty of abusing but not raping girl

By Ashleigh McDonald

A Co Antrim man has been acquitted by a jury of raping a child 10 years his junior.

The 45-year-old had faced four charges of sexually abusing two youngsters on dates between February 1987 and 1990. He was acquitted of two charges including rape, but was convicted by a majority verdict on the remaining two charges.

Belfast Crown Court was told the accused was related to one of the victim's family members, and that he abused the youngster on two separate occasions in a derelict house.

The young victim was aged between seven and nine, when she was called into the derelict house by the accused, aged 18 at the time, who indecently assaulted her in an upstairs room in the empty property. The defendant was subsequently found guilty of indecent assault and gross indecency after the forewoman of the jury returned majority verdicts.

However, the victim also claimed that around the same time, she was playing alone in the derelict house, where she was taken upstairs and raped. On this count, the accused was acquitted.

He was also charged with, but acquitted of, indecently assaulting a second girl who was also aged around seven or eight. The defendant was accused of assaulting the girl on a date between November 1986 and November 1987.

However, this allegation was rejected by the jury. After all four verdicts were returned, Judge David McFarland thanked the jury for their service.

Defence barrister Kieran Mallon QC asked that pre-sentence reports be prepared, before asking that his client be granted continuing bail. This request was agreed by Judge McFarland, who warned that this should not be taken as an indication of how the court will deal with him. He was ordered to return to the same court on December 8 for sentencing.

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